Tackling Underachievement through Creativity in Primary Mathematics
Wednesday 27 November, 17.00 – 19.00
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) Queens Square, Bath BA1 2HN
The first line of the new national curriculum states: “Mathematics is a creative and highly inter-connected subject”. This event is a chance to engage actively in some of the work of a research project that, for the last three years, has been tackling underachievement in primary mathematics through a focus on creativity. The project is a collaboration between the University of Bristol and 5x5x5=creativity.
We have had some striking successes with our research together and in this session we will share what we have learnt. We will offer our thoughts on how and why students can get engaged through creative processes in mathematics, show how these need not be in conflict with curriculum coverage and can in fact help with the need to work on complex ideas with young children. Participants will engage in one or more of the activities from the project, we will look at some students' work, hear the teachers’ stories and open up a discussion of issues raised.
Speakers: Alf Coles, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol , Penny Hay, Director of Research, 5x5x5=creativity, Senior Lecturer in Arts Education, Bath Spa University, Teachers from the project
Event summary archive:
Refocus Bath and Bristol and 5x5x5=creativity
Musical Minds: The potential of music
Learning in and through music with children and young people
16 March 2012 1-5pm at the American Museum in Britain, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7BD
A summary of the seminar:
How do we nurture and support all children and young people in the development of the musical capacities they have from birth and and share with others the value and enjoyment of music as they grow and develop?
This seminar offered the opportunity to look at projects that work with creative enablers, especially musicians and educators, to tap into children and young people's musical communication and expression, starting from the children's musical and imaginative ideas in their play.
Catherine Reding: Music specialist and educator shares her work with Sightlines Initiative ‘Drama of Sound' project in the North East of England
Annie Menter: project director and Executive of the WOMAD Foundation, shares a number of specific projects both within the context of 5x5x5 and within WOMAD's wider remit and experiences of working with musicians from around the world within a variety of educational settings both in the UK and abroad, showing how we can nurture and value musical creativity within young people, encouraging exploration, experimentation and emotional expression through musical participation.
Mauricio Velasierra, musician, composer and educator discusses the role of music in his childhood and his work followed by a practical workshop.
Creativity and emotional wellbeing held at the American Museum in Britain, 11 November 2011
A selection of notes and video clips from our seminar:
Opening of the seminar: introduction by Penny Hay, Director of Research 5x5x5=creativity
Karen & Robyn's conversation
Nowadays, even young children are sensitive to the steady push for a fairer society and changes in authority structures. A democratic society depends on everyone taking responsibility and contributing what they can, which is possible only when each of us feels we belong and are seen as uniquely creative, capable and self-determining individuals.
Key themes in Karen & Robyn's conversation
1. To be human is to be creative - to be compelled to engage with and make sense of the world around us. We use all of our senses and our shared and unique capacities, to find meaning and communicate with others. From the first year of life, the capacity to invent and create is universal. We interact with our environment and with others and we express our understandings in a multitude of creative ways.
2. Throughout our lives, once our basic needs for physical comfort and safety are met, our feelings of emotional wellbeing depend upon our sense of being important, respected and valued - at least to the extent that those around us are.
3. The Crucial Cs provide an easy way to remember our fundamental psychological needs from birth through old age and a framework that helps us think about how to promote emotional wellbeing, creativity and social interest and engagement: 1) to belong, to fit in, to feel secure or to feel CONNECTED; 2) to feel competent, able to improve or to feel CAPABLE; 3) to feel significant, that we matter, make a difference and are regarded as self-determining or to feel we COUNT; and 4) to feel able to handle difficult situations and overcome fear or to have COURAGE.
4. The push for equality and democratic political structures can be traced back to the Greeks, and the recent ‘Arab Spring' reminds us of the intensity of this push to be treated fairly and to participate in decisions that affect our lives.
5. In well-off countries around the world, rapid social changes, including changes in family structures and authority relationships, contribute to the sense that the need for equality is not easily satisfied. Even young children are sensitive to the steady push for a fairer society and changes in authority structures. Yet a growing number of studies impressively demonstrate that greater equality, a sense of control and social interest and engagement reduce stress and unhappiness and promote health and wellbeing (epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot's Whitehall Study, economist Richard Layard's book on happiness research and Wilkinson and Pickett's book The Spirit Level).
6. Persistent challenges to promoting equality of value and social inclusion, respect and other elements of democratic living are:
• equality narrowly defined as ‘the same'
• difficulties with social differences, different values
• very limited view of what constitutes ‘success'
• need to celebrate different perceptions, talents and abilities
• power strivings that arise from feelings of inadequacy taken to ‘prove' that humans are inherently competitive rather than cooperative
• repetitive swings from autocratic/authoritarian methods to laissez faire methods. Need to develop and exercise authoritative methods
7. A democratic society depends on everyone taking responsibility and contributing what they can, which is possible only when each of us feels we belong and are seen as being of equal value and uniquely creative, capable and self-determining individuals. This requires the courage to be imperfect and recognising that making mistakes promotes learning and ultimately greater cooperation.
What are you doing to enhance your own and others' wellbeing and creativity?
You can watch a video clip of Karen and Robyn's conversation here:
The Crucial Cs and Goals of Misbehaviour: The Basic Need to Belong (Karen John) download paper here
Theory versus spontaneity in the consulting room - finding the mid-range (Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter) download paper here
Karen is a developmental psychologist who works as a researcher, trainer, lecturer, consultant, psychotherapist and supervisor. With 40 years' experience in mental health, research and training, her abiding aim is to help individuals, families, organisations and professionals recognise and overcome internal and external obstacles that interfere with their healthy functioning.
Robyn is a health visitor, practice researcher and Adlerian psychotherapist with an interest in supporting parents and their children, practitioners and policy makers to explore and take responsibility for what we each do in our social lives to creatively influence the kind of society we all wish to live in.
Catherine and Helen's conversation
Helen and Catherine explore commonalities and differences in their roles and practice as Art Psychotherapist and Artist working in clinical/educational settings. Drawing upon individual case studies they explore models which fold down historical boundaries around therapeutic art practice and support holistic, creative engagement and well-being.
Key themes in Catherine and Helen's conversation
• What, currently, is exciting us about our practice in this area?
• What are our mutual areas of interest and professional cross-overs? Infant attachment, relational development, identity construction, re-construction
• Example of shared 5x5x5 residency and mentor roles across two settings (Three Ways School and Warmley Park School)
• Client /educator/ child/student experience with the different communities and the complementary factors this brings to discussion
• Trust built up through layers of dialogue within settings
• The role of empathy, intuition and our respective professional backgrounds
• Understanding that a variety of interventions may be necessary to consider for the wellbeing of the participants
• 5x5x5 provides us as artists with time, creative space, the responsibility of a free hand
• The complete experience and ownership of this, for the artist, staff, pupils and participants
• 'Welcoming, wondering and valuing'
• What we're given as permission, we can give to the children as permission; look at growth & learning together, to open up new experiences and new ideas;
• The experiences we bring to the children
• Starting points and their importance; spontaneity and its place
• Doing away with assumptions and working with what is in the here and now
• Risk-taking: how uncomfortable this can be; how we respond to this on a non-verbal level and come to it new each time
• Ralph Steadman and the Needless Smut!
• Embodied responses; cognitive, somatic and sensory responses; finding a completely new way to respond to these
• The 'relational body'
• 'Words don't cut it'
• Looking at the non-verbal and the artist's and Art Psychotherapist's response to this, whatever the age, whatever the stage of life.
• Who knows which images, taken in to work with, lodge in the unconscious
• Our art practice at the core, requiring more of our resources in each new setting
• 'The vulnerability of the line and the rigour of the line'
• 'The charge of materials'
• The freedom of the outside experience
You can watch a video clip of Catherine and Helen's conversation here
Catherine is practitioner/researcher working in schools, clinical contexts and Higher Education. Her research to date focuses on sensory/cognitive connection-making and improvisation through arts practice. Catherine is a 5x5x5 artist-researcher and has a particular interest in whole-body engagement working/learning alongside children and students with special needs.
Helen is an artist practitioner, researcher and Art Psychotherapist who works with the artform in a variety of settings with children, young people and adults, exploring their means of communication through art. She has a research interest in the visual narrative and how we choose to express ourselves through both verbal and non-verbal forms, representing the self through personal expression. In her own artwork, she explores the use of memory as narrative.
Ed, Gillian and James' conversation
Reflecting on last year's research at St Saviours Infant School for 5x5x5=creativity, Ed, Gillian and James will be exploring the value that creative outdoor learning has for the emotional wellbeing of children,
how a school's commitment to SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) influences their daily practice, and what the role of the artist looks like within such work.
Key themes from Ed, Gillian's and James' conversation:
Reflecting on last year's research at St Saviours Infant School for 5x5x5=creativity, Ed Harker, Headteacher, Gillian McFarland, parent and Art Therapist, and James Aldridge, Artist in Residence, explored the value that creative outdoor learning has for the emotional wellbeing of children, how a school's commitment to SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) influences their daily practice, and what the role of the artist looks like within such work.
Beginning with three short presentations, as introductions to each of their roles and their understanding of the work carried out together, the session then focused on responding to the interests of audience members, inviting discussion and linking with the two previous conversations/presentations.
Whilst Ed responded to Robin and Karen's exploration of creativity and democracy, and what this could actually look like within a school setting, Gillian shared the experiences of her son and the effect that being part of the 5x5x5=creativity research project has had on him, and James looked at the creative dialogue between a child and their environment, and the dual benefit for child and environment.
‘Froebel recognised the significance of play in childhood years before his involvement with kindergarten, and he devoted one of the introductory essays in The Education of Man to its importance: "Play is the purest, the most spiritual, product of man at this stage, and is at once the prefiguration and imitation of the total human life, -of the inner, secret, natural life in man and in all things. It produces, therefore, joy, freedom, satisfaction, repose within and without, peace with the world. The springs of all good rest within it and go out from it."
All of the kindergarten activities, the singing, dancing, gardening, storytelling, gifts, and occupations were play; it was the engine that propelled the system. . . .'
Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten, pp. 32 - 33, Harry N. Abra
James: What do you say if someone asks you what you do in 5x5x5?
William: That we make stuff from anything that we can find
Luke: ...because we want to make our playground better
James: How is 5x5x5 different from normal school?
Bertie: You make things outside, not inside
James: ...and when we come outside how does it make you feel?
5x5x5=creativity at St Saviours Infant School, 2011
‘As part of the growing movement to shift the paradigm of a bounded, isolated self toward a vision of a self that is permeable, interconnected not only with other human selves but with all living beings and processes, a new theory of child development must be evolved. Such a theory must take into consideration that the infant is born into not only a social but an ecological context. It must acknowledge that, from the earliest moments of life, the infant has an awareness not only of human touch, but of the touch of the breeze on her skin, variations in light and temperature, texture, sound.'
Anita Barrows - The Ecopsychology of Child Development
You can watch a video clip of Ed, James and Gillian's conversation here
Ed is the Headteacher of St Saviours Nursery and Infant School in Larkhall on the outskirts of Bath and has been involved in 5x5x5 for the last 10 years, initially as a Nursery teacher. His school enjoys the challenge of reconciling the apparent tensions between providing an age appropriate and engaging curriculum for young children and the drive to raise levels of achievement in core skills.
Gillian is an art therapist, artist and parent .She has 25 years experience working in the arts, education and mental health, She is interested in the engagement of the individual in creative activity and its potential to deepen an awareness of self and others .
James is an artist, consultant and director of Creative Ecology, working with 5x5x5=creativity as an artist and mentor since 2005. James makes art with people and places, from site-specific installations to participatory projects, in partnership with a range of organisations from the arts, education, heritage and environmental sectors.
Key questions from delegates:How do we manifest democracy daily?
How do we manifest democracy daily?
Open to challenge
Creative wellbeing for adults too
Revisit/reflect on different viewpoints
How do we hone our observation skills?
With patients - taking a message to medical students (future doctors)
‘You feel as if you are being taught to see more... patients looking for personality, reassurance and comfort'
different types of observational skills
Visual artists - identifying people's work. Process whereby individual's work can be easily identified from knowing the person
Our observational skills are quite instinctive and underused
Intensive care - premature babies - early intervention - observing and describing is key - making environment as womb-like and protective as possible. Getting away from old model of negative stimuli. Empowering parents to observe and pick up signals from babies. Long term impact of having a baby in intensive care. Need to create a space for parents to reflect and come to terms with emotions
Observation not just about seeing, about observing with all the senses
‘Being' with someone may be the most important thing - not always encouraged in healthcare
Possibilities of different observations of the same situation
‘Labels' can frame our observations
How can we feedback observations to change perceptions?
Sometimes observations can come afterwards
Police observations - asking people to be a fly on the wall. Asking people to take themselves out of themselves
Difference between observation and reflection
The more you see the more you realise you have missed - subliminal things that you think you have missed when you haven't
How do we share our observations (especially if they have been difficult or negative)?
Not possible to rush observations - seeing is linked to learning - there shouldn't be a right way of seeing
Encouraging care staff in nursing home to observe relationships and connections between people
Challenging to involve all carers who may not have confidence in their observation skills (see themselves as ‘do-ers' - how do you empower those people?)
Start from where they are now to open a little window
Ending of the day